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Q meter A Q meter is a piece of equipment used in the testing of radio frequency circuits.

It has been largely replaced in professional laboratories by other types of impedance measuring device, though it is still in use among radio amateurs. It was developed at Boonton Radio Corporation in Boonton, New Jersey in 1934 by William D. Loughlin Q meter A direct-reading instrument widely used for measuring the Q of an electric circuit at radio frequencies. Originally designed to measure the Q of coils, the Q meter has been developed into a flexible, general-purpose instrument for determining many other quantities such as (1) the distributed capacity, effective inductance, and selfresonant frequency of coils; (2) the capacitance, Q or power factor, and self-resonant frequency of capacitors; (3) the effective resistance, inductance or capacitance, and the Q of resistors; (4) characteristics of intermediate- and radio-frequency transformers; and (5) the dielectric constant, dissipation factor, and power factor of insulating materials. Q (electricity) Often called the quality factor of a circuit, Q is defined in various ways, depending upon the particular application. In the simple RL and RC series circuits, Q is the ratio of reactance to resistance, as in Eqs. (1), (1) where XL is the inductive reactance, XC is the capacitive reactance, and R is the resistance. An important application lies in the dissipation factor or loss angle when the constants of a coil or capacitor are measured by means of the alternating-current bridge. Q has greater practical significance with respect to the resonant circuit, and a basic definition is given by Eq. (2), (2) where Q0 means evaluation at resonance. For certain circuits, such as cavity resonators, this is the only meaning Q can have. For the RLC series resonant circuit with resonant frequency f0, Eq. (3) (3)

holds, where R is the total circuit resistance, L is the inductance, and C is the capacitance. Q0 is the Q of the coil if it contains practically the total resistance R. The greater the value of Q0, the sharper will be the resonance peak. The practical case of a coil of high Q0 in parallel with a capacitor also leads to Q0 = 2&pgr;f0L/R. R is the total series resistance of the loop, although the capacitor branch usually has negligible resistance. In terms of the resonance curve, Eq. (4) holds, (4) where f0 is the frequency at resonance, and f1 and f2 are the frequencies at the halfpower points. A Q meter measures Q, the quality factor of a circuit, which expresses how much energy is dissipated per cycle in a non-ideal reactive circuit:

This expression applies to an RF and microwave filter, bandpass LC filter, or any resonator. It also can be applied to an inductor or capacitor at a chosen frequency. For inductors

Where XL is the reactance of the inductor, L is the inductance, is the angular frequency and R is the resistance of the inductor. The resistance R represents the loss in the inductor, mainly due to the resistance of the wire. For LC band pass circuits and filters:

Where F is the resonant frequency (center frequency) and BW is the filter bandwidth. In a band pass filter using an LC resonant circuit, when the loss (resistance) of the inductor increases, its Q is reduced, and so the bandwidth of the filter is increased. In a coaxial cavity filter, there are no inductors and capacitors, but the cavity has an equivalent LC model with losses (resistance) and the Q factor can be applied as well. INTRODUCTION

For many years, the Q meter has been an essential piece of equipment for laboratories engaged in the testing of radio frequency circuits. In modem laboratories, the Q meter has been largely replaced by more exotic (and more expensive) impedance measuring devices and today, it is difficult to find a manufacturer who still makes a Q meter. For the radio amateur, the Q meter is still a very useful piece of test equipment and the writer has given some thought to how a simple Q meter could be made for the radio shack. For those who are unfamiliar with this type of instrument, a few introductory notes on the definition of Q and the measurement of Q, are included. WHAT IS Q AND NOW IS IT MEASURED? The Q factor or quality factor of an inductance is commonly expressed as the ratio of its series reactance to its series resistance. We can also express the Q factor of a capacitance as the ratio of its series reactance to its series resistance although capacitors are generally specified by the D or dissipation factor which is the reciprocal of Q. A tuned circuit, at resonance, is considered to have a Q factor. In this case, Q is equal to the ratio of either the inductive reactance, or the capacitive reactance, to the total series loss resistance in the tuned circuit. The greater the loss resistance and the lower the Q, the greater the power lost on each cycle of oscillation in the tuned circuit and hence the greater the power needed to maintain oscillation. Another way to derive Q is as follows: Q = fo/f where fo is the resonant frequency and f is the 3 dB bandwidth (See Footnote on how this is done.)

Finally, Q factor of a resonant circuit is equal to its voltage magnification factor and Q can also be expressed as the ratio of voltage developed across its reactive elements to the voltage injected in series with the circuit to produce the developed voltage. To measure Q factor, Q meters make use of this principle. A basic Q meter is shown in Figure 1. Terminals are provided to connect the inductance (Lx) to be measured and this is resonated by a variable tuning capacitor (C). Terminals are also provided to add capacitance (Cx), if required. The tuned circuit is excited from a tunable signal source which develops voltage across a resistor in series with the tuned circuit. The resistor must have a resistance small compared to the loss resistance of the components to be measured so that its value can be ignored. A resistance of a mere fraction of an ohm is necessary. Metering is provided to measure the AC injection voltage across the series resistor and the AC output voltage across the terminals of the tuning capacitor. The output measurement must

be a high input impedance circuit to prevent loading of the tuned circuit by the metering circuit.

Figure 1 - Basic Q Meter At resonance of Lx and Cx, Q = V2/V1 *Meter V2 is Calibrated to read voltage referred to that across C.

Q is measured by adjusting the source frequency and/or the tuning capacitor for a peak in output voltage corresponding to resonance. Q factor is calculated as the ratio of output voltage measured across the tuned circuit to that injected into it. In practice, the signal source level is generally set for a calibrate point on the meter which measures injected voltage and Q is directly read from calibration on the meter which measures output voltage. SOME USES OF THE Q METER The Q meter can be used for many purposes. As the name implies, it can measure Q and is generally used to check the Q factor of inductors. As the internal tuning capacitor has an air dielectric its loss resistance is negligible compared to that of any inductor and hence the Q measured is that of the inductor. The value of Q varies considerable with different types of inductors used over different ranges of frequency. Miniature commercial inductors, such as the Siemens B78108 types or the Lenox-Fugal Nanored types, made on ferrite cores and operated at frequencies up to 1 MHz, have typical Q factors in the region of 50 to 100. Air wound inductors with spaced turns, such as found in transmitter tank circuits and operating at frequencies above 10 MHz, can be expected to have Q factors of around 200 to 500. Some inductors have Q factors as low as five or 10 at some frequencies and such inductors are generally unsuitable for use in selective circuits or in sharp filters. The Q meter is very useful to check these out. The tuning capacitor (C) of the Q meter has a calibrated dial marked in pico-farads so that, in conjunction with the calibration of the oscillator source, the value of inductance (Lx) can be derived. The tuned circuit is simply set to resonance by adjusting the frequency and/or the tuning capacitor for a peak in the output voltage meter and then calculating the inductance (Lx) from the usual formula:

Lx = 1/4fC Q and bandwidth of a resonant circuit The Q, quality factor, of a resonant circuit is a measure of the goodness or quality of a resonant circuit. A higher value for this figure of merit correspondes to a more narrow bandwith, which is desirable in many applications. More formally, Q is the ration of power stored to power dissipated in the circuit reactance and resistance, respectively: Q = Pstored/Pdissipated = I2X/I2R Q = X/R where: X = Capacitive or Inductive reactance at resonance R = Series resistance. This formula is applicable to series resonant circuits and also parallel resonant circuits if the resistance is in series with the inductor. This is the case in practical applications, as we are mostly concerned with the resistance of the inductor limiting the Q. Note: Some text may show X and R interchanged in the Q formula for a parallel resonant circuit. This is correct for a large value of R in parallel with C and L. Our formula is correct for a small R in series with L. A practical application of Q is that voltage across L or C in a series resonant circuit is Q times total applied voltage. In a parallel resonant circuit, current through L or C is Q times the total applied current. Series resonant circuits A series resonant circuit looks like a resistance at the resonant frequency. (Figure below) Since the definition of resonance is XL=XC, the reactive components cancel, leaving only the resistance to contribute to the impedance. The impedance is also at a minimum at resonance. (Figure below) Below the resonant frequency, the series resonant circuit looks capacitive since the impedance of the capacitor increases to a value greater than the decreasing inductive reactance, leaving a net capacitive value. Above resonance, the inductive reactance increases, capacitive reactance decreases, leaving a net inductive component.

At resonance the series resonant circuit appears purely resistive. Below resonance it looks capacitive. Above resonance it appears inductive. Current is maximum at resonance, impedance at a minimum. Current is set by the value of the resistance. Above or below resonance, impedance increases.

Impedance is at a minimum at resonance in a series resonant circuit. The resonant current peak may be changed by varying the series resistor, which changes the Q. (Figure below). This also affects the broadness of the curve. A low resistance, high Q circuit has a narrow bandwidth, as compared

to a high resistance, low Q circuit. Bandwidth in terms of Q and resonant frequency: BW = fc /Q Where fc = resonant frequency Q = quality factor

A high Q resonant circuit has a narrow bandwidth as compared to a low Q Bandwidth is measured between the 0.707 current amplitude points. The 0.707 current points correspond to the half power points since P = I2R, (0.707)2 = (0.5). (Figure below)

Bandwidth, f is measured between the 70.7% amplitude points of series resonant circuit. BW = f = fh-fl = fc/Q Where fh = high band edge, fl = low band edge

fl = fc - f/2 fh = fc + f/2 Where fc = center frequency (resonant frequency)

In Figure above, the 100% current point is 50 mA. The 70.7% level is 0707(50 mA)=35.4 mA. The upper and lower band edges read from the curve are 291 Hz for fl and 355 Hz for fh. The bandwidth is 64 Hz, and the half power points are 32 Hz of the center resonant frequency:

BW = f = fh-fl = 355-291 = 64 fl = fc - f/2 = 323-32 = 291 fh = fc + f/2 = 323+32 = 355

Since BW = fc/Q: Q = fc/BW = (323 Hz)/(64 Hz) = 5 Parallel resonant circuits A parallel resonant circuit is resistive at the resonant frequency. (Figure below) At resonance XL=XC, the reactive components cancel. The impedance is maximum at resonance. (Figure below) Below the resonant frequency, the series resonant circuit looks inductive since the impedance of the inductor is lower, drawing the larger proportion of current. Above resonance, the capacitive rectance decreases, drawing the larger current, thus, taking on a capacitive characteristic.

A parallel resonant circuit is resistive at resonance, inductive below resonance, capacitive above resonance. Impedance is maximum at resonance in a parallel resonant circuit, but decreases above or below resonance. Voltage is at a peak at resonance since voltage is proportional to impedance (E=IZ). (Figure below)

Parallel resonant circuit: Impedance peaks at resonance. A low Q due to a high resistance in series with the inductor produces a low peak on a broad response curve for a parallel resonant circuit. (Figure below) conversely, a high Q is due to a low resistance in series with the inductor. This produces a higher peak in the narrower response curve. The high Q is achieved by winding the inductor with larger diameter (smaller gague), lower resistance wire.

Parallel resonant response varies with Q. The bandwidth of the parallel resonant response curve is measured between the half power points. This corresponds to the 70.7% voltage

points since power is proportional to E2. ((0.707)2=0.50) Since voltage is proportional to impedance, we may use the impedance curve. (Figure below)

Bandwidth, f is measured between the 70.7% impedance points of a parallel resonant circuit. In Figure above, the 100% impedance point is 500 . The 70.7% level is 0707(500)=354 . The upper and lower band edges read from the curve are 281 Hz for fl and 343 Hz for fh. The bandwidth is 62 Hz, and the half power points are 31 Hz of the center resonant frequency:

BW = f = fh-fl = 343-281 = 62 fl = fc - f/2 = 312-31 = 281 fh = fc + f/2 = 312+31 = 343 Q = fc/BW = (312 Hz)/(62 Hz) = 5